Commentary: What Democratic confusion!

By Richard W. Hoover

Has there ever been a junior varsity guest columnist who, all at once, takes on the outpourings of two award-winning professional commentators — in this case, the two who starred in last Saturday’s Opinion Page? Taken together, Andy Schmookler and Robert Reich rail against white, male and heterosexual privilege, champion “justice” in the form of social and economic equality and, in order to fulfill what Reich calls “our obligations to one another,” would vigorously bleed the capitalist system to the advantage of their long-devalued and disadvantaged constituents.

Schmookler’s tongue-in-cheek sympathies go to the “understandably angry … white men … thrown out of the top quarter of humanity (by the Democratic Party) and into the general pool.” It’s a tragic loss of white male “automatic superiority.” Even sadder — and here he turns serious — these dispossessed whites are being robbed of their fair share of the American dream by the “rich and powerful” (hereafter referred to here as the R&P). Note: what fabulous manipulations these, when white, male heterosexuals, despised by the Democratic Party, suddenly find themselves promoted to the ranks of those who are to despise the enemies of that party!

At the same time, Reich blames white flight for the basket-case-ization of once-mighty Detroit. He calls on the “wealthier and whiter” villains, those who escaped to just over city limits, to address Detroit’s problems by paying up. He seems to call for redrawing and extending Detroit’s boundaries in order to bring the R&P runaways back home for some real social and economic justice! Might Reich even favor anti-flight laws to keep wealthy whites in place, to make them accessible to municipal tax-collectors?

What Democratic confusion! On one hand, Schmookler would bring down the R&P, whose very existence, he says, is the epitome of “injustice.” On the other, Reich appears to see them as key to the salvation of basket-case Detroit, even if they have to be brought back kicking and in chains!

In suggesting that a big comeuppance is due the R&P, our columnists could have taken more credit had they come up with specific measures to effectively replace their class enemy, had they at least proposed measures to wring out of the R&P “our obligations to one another.” Is socialism their answer?

Within the context of recent western class struggle, of course, specific measures naturally leap to mind, starting with setting up a guillotine, say, where stands Front Royal’s East Main Street gazebo. Mere palliatives might entail confiscation, whether by taxation or by actual seizure of R&P property, perhaps by the National Guard. Can’t tell Schmookler’s exact thinking on any of this, how far he would go should events ever give him an opportunity (as they did Robespierre), but his obsessing over the “big political force” which took it all away from straight white males suggests that he is wide open to possibilities!

The articles might have gained some economic credibility had the authors possessed any reputation for job creation, which they do not. Without that, what can they say to thousands of Detroiters — jobless workers, pensioners, school teachers, politicians — who would give, no doubt, a great deal in order to bring the R&P back home, would give a great deal in order to keep the Democratic Party forever away from City Hall?

A more productive theme for our two columnists might have been measures which American cities can take in order to avoid becoming another Detroit, starting with those measures necessary to keep the “rich and powerful” from ever leaving town in the first place.

Richard W. Hoover is a retired Foreign Service officer (1969-95) who resides in southern Warren County.